Railway path: the corporate priorities

One currently unexplored aspect of the West of England Strategic Partnership’s BRT Project Board – that has devised the plan to destroy the Bristol and Bath Railway Path – is the presence on it of a number of large corporations well-known for their good relations with government and consistent proximity to large public/private deals.

We all already know about First Group, our useless local bus monopoly, that weaseled their way on to the board to hoover-up another monopoly provider deal, but there’s others. Also inexplicably present are the the corporate civil engineering groups Atkins, Halcrow and Steer Davies Gleave.

And a brief look at the Internal Briefing (pdf), produced earlier this year by the BRT Project Board, is very revealing about what their collective priorities are:

The route is planned to use the existing former railway corridor, although retaining a high quality cycle and pedestrian corridor alongside. The route performs well in terms of patronage and deliverability, and will include careful design to ensure that it interacts sensitively with new developments in the Temple Meads and Temple Quay areas.

Yes that’s right, the concerned designers of our new BRT will ensure that it interacts sensitively with the corporate developments around Temple Meads and Temple Quay! They can’t go upsetting fellow big business interests like Temple Quay developers Castlemore can they?

Strangely these caring, sharing corporate interests, working directly alongside Bristol City Council “local experts”, express no such concern for established communities in Bristol that are likely to be wrecked by their route such as Easton and Whitehall.

You could end up thinking it’s because they don’t give a toss.

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8 Responses to Railway path: the corporate priorities

  1. Chris Hutt says:

    East Bristol has always been seen as a soft touch when it comes to blasting through the latest wheeze in transport infrastructure.

    The M32 , the Inner and Outer Circuit Roads, the Spine Road and now the BRT routes – not just on the Railway Path but another planned alongside the Frome and M32 (where a cycle path runs, by chance).

    All this imposed upon an area that was already fragmented by the railways, although these predated the urbanisation. The result is that local movement around east Bristol involves the use of an inordinate number of narrow tunnels, underpasses and windswept bridges, helping to give the area it’s “edgy” feel.

    However the consultants didn’t reckon on the influx of young, articulate professionals into Easton in particular, often drawn to the area because of the presence of the Railway Path.

    They aren’t the types to roll over meekly when told they must sacrifice their quality of life for the convenience of Park-and-Ride commuters from Emerson’s Green.

  2. The Last Bristolian says:

    Chris Hutt – I’m glad you mentioned “young articulate professionals” moving to Easton. Contributions to this blog have always suggested you were ALL “solid working class”, but with slightly Estuary English accents of course!

  3. Pedestria says:

    Spot on, as ever, both Bristol Blogger and Chris Hutt.

    Movement, as you say, is already restricted, and even more so with the Packer’s Field development, which will involve greater control of access around the area. Buses would further deter pedestrians and cyclists from freely moving about, and I expect the developers are hoping that more people will then be forced to pay to use their wretched vehicles.

    The Lib Dems and “Labour” are so busy trying to blame each other for this terrible miscalculation. But we all know who really runs Bristol – it’s the same bunch of oligarchs who’ve run it for a few hundred years. As plenty others have said here, democracy is a sham. It’s the corporate agenda every time.

    Expect the usual astroturfers, apologists and undercover stooges to spin the line about how it’s all good for us really.

    Which reminds me … who copped the (presumably lucrative) contracts for that monstrous Academy, and the Packers mess.

  4. Pedestria says:

    By the way, haven’t any of you guys ever heard of HYPERMOBILITY – just one of the diseases our modern society is suffering from.

    The “decision-makers” here should be seeking ways to enable and encourage us to slow down, chill out and work from home or near our homes, not wasting millions and billions pushing us to buzz around like blue-arse flies. Buses and trains (for the foreseeable future) do still use up masses of fossil fuels and cause noise pollution, air pollution, and waste in manufacture, servicing and use as well as presenting a menace to pedestrians, cyclists and wildlife.

    Prof John Adams (UCL) has written about the hyper-mobile society that is being created, showing that as society becomes more mobile it becomes;

    – more dispersed
    – more polarised
    – more dangerous
    – more hostile to children
    – more anonymous and less convivial
    – more crime-ridden
    – fatter and less fit
    – less culturally diverse
    – less democratic

    Is that really what you want ???

    Or is it actually about draining more income away from the suburbs, and funnelling it into the desperate Merchants megalomania, more overpaid jobs for the privileged few and more top profit ?

  5. Big Eejit says:

    If there was ever an argument for not putting pics of your management team on your website, that FirstGroup director’s biogs page is the clincher.

    I thought privatisation of the buses was meant to lead to competition not one useless monopoly. One explanation for this situation is the story I heard from a driver for a large Bristol taxi firm. According to him First paid his boss to take his buses off the road. And continued to make payments to him so long as he didn’t compete with them. This was a few years ago – don’t no if they still do.

    But this surely can’t be what was envisaged when these service were privatised. Can it?

  6. Chris Hutt says:

    Bi Eejit wrote “If there was ever an argument for not putting pics of your management team on your website, that FirstGroup director’s biogs page is the clincher”.

    Absolutely, most of them look like they’d be more at home in the bar than the boardroom. What on earth are our councillors thinking of, getting into bed with that lot? Not sex obviously.

  7. JulieAnn says:

    >”However the consultants didn’t reckon on the >influx of young, articulate professionals into >Easton in particular, often drawn to the area >because of the presence of the Railway Path.”

    Recently I encountered the phrase “Easton Clique”, a new term of abuse hurled this way by a motorist who likes to send comments to the Evening Post.

    What Chris Hutt has said here is true; a proportion of the population of Easton is young and articulate (not to mention fit and politically active!) but the higher proportion of the population is made up of people who are neither nor having having particularly fabulous lives. Look at complaints about street cleaning, dog shit; look at the crime rates and the Ofsted reports which give a hint of the issues that local schools have to deal with. The area is suffering from a lack of stability as houses are turned into flats and bedsits; Easton becomes a home for single people and families move on. Have a look at page 19 and 20 on this document, the Easton and Lawrence Hill Housing Needs Assessment

    Trash the railway path and watch the social mix get trashed even further as those of us who actively choose to live here, slowly move out.

  8. Seeker says:

    Atkins also happen to be the firm behind the “Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study” (GBSTS) which recommended ripping up the Severn Beach line in favour of…you guessed it: guided buses!

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